by: Michael Shields
Exactly a year has passed since I had one of the more memorable days with my good friend. We have had days most would consider more notable, my friend and I, days of much deeper substance. But this day I speak of, one year removed from today, still manages to hold its head well above water, and to stand out.
It started with a rendezvous at DC’s Union Station where my good friend took the time to walk from his apartment to meet me, to usher me into his city. His dog, one I am beyond fond of, was in tow and greeted me with a howl I still think of when I need a smile. Little in life gets me more than a canine I have not seen in some time remembering who I am and letting me know it. Warms my heart. We proceeded to shake our four-legged friend and head to a sports bar to watch our favorite team play an inconsequential game1 that we treated like the Final Four because of inflamed early whiskey passion, friendship, and good spirit. Of note at this bar was my good friend flirting with the bartendress which was a treasure to watch until my good friend attempted to explain that he likes to order food at restaurants just “to have it around.” That created a hole in that ship that couldn’t be patched.
To another bar, my good friend and I.
This one much more upscale and the youth of the hour allowed us a seat at the bar with ease. My good friend enthusiastically ordered a round of oysters, a perfect call as the appetite was swelling with the alcohol consumption and little consecrates the pallet better than an oyster’s gift of ocean saltiness. If I desired oysters, that day with my good friend, it turns out that it was imperative I order them for myself, as that round I spoke of was ingested without a mention of participation, and with a briskness which still awes me. No hard feelings of course, this is my good friend we are talking about.
Fate smiled upon me at this bar on this day, with my good friend. Luckily I was able to witness a moment of comic genius that normally could only be written up and then shot several times to nail the comedic timing perfectly. My good friend, you see, does not need a script or several takes, to get his wit across. Not in the least. He has a gift. Fortuitously I entered the men’s room at such a moment I was able to witness his command of all things funny. My good friend was at a urinal surrounded by many other men relieving themselves of recently ingested pints and such. The bathroom, like the bar, was crowded – a perfect audience.
Before I continue I must make make you aware that the Harlem Globetrotters were in town, a fact my good friend was all too aware of. We were just a stones throw away from where they were most definitely busy making a mockery of the Washington Generals, in their hometown no less.
Being aware of the game my good friend, stone-faced, sincere, and at a volume that made it known this question was meant for all in the vicinity, turned to the man adjacent to him and asked “Do you know if the Globetrotters won?” It hit hard. Words will never, in all their ability and function, be able to fully describe the home run my good friend hit with this joke. Never has a bathroom united in such unison with laughter in the manner that occurred this day, where my good friend brought the bath house down.
Much more occurred on this day of note. We returned to my good friends house and went to work on a pillow sized bag of fun. We were joined by other close acquaintances, one of which had to retreat from public later in the evening as the partying made him, in his mind, unpresentable to the world. And another who brought over multiple sixers of micro-brews and his girlfriend. We bumped Ghostface at unspeakable heights while my good friend spit every lyric in perfect unison, a feat I did not know he was capable of, but I was not surprised in the least.
My good friend also bestowed upon me a gift this evening, a gift that in my condition dropped my jaw to the floor and made me forever in gratitude. He, my good friend, ushered me to his closet and withdrew a shirt that had a graphic upon the front of it that appeared as if it were designed with no one in mind other than me. Two sanctified worlds collided perfectly upon one tee. It had turntables, mc’s spitting into microphones, and it had sneakers and basketball players on it as well. It seemed impossible, too good to be true. The hug I gave my good friend would never be remembered for it’s brevity.
But as it turns out, and with proper apropos to one of the funniest days in recent memory I have shared with my good friend, it was too good to be true. Perfectly so. When I got home, back to New York, I retrieved my shirt from the confines of my bag to soak in its greatness some more. I did not even want to wear it you see, just look at it and enjoy it aesthetically as one of the greatest shirts of all time. The greatest, that is, until I turned it over and looked at the back of the shirt, an action my good friend avoided with tact upon presentation. On the back, in the largest letters I have seen on any clothes of any kind were the words “I AM WHO YOU WANT TO BE!”. If you think this is okay – we are not okay, and time will never fix that. There is no other way to explain this but to compare the shirt to a ravishing car which is passing you on the highway. The kind of car so engaging you are drawn in, your eyes well off the road and glued to this mobile work of art. But then you see, as it passes you, a banner that distributes itself across the ENTIRE rear window which reads “NO FEAR”. The shirt, the car…..one in the same.
It was fitting however, as this shirt was offered to me as a gift on the same evening I unwittingly opened a commemorative bottle of Coca-Cola of my good friends. A limited edition memorializing Cal Ripken’s unimaginable games played streak. A cherished item of my good friend. A mistake, and no hard feelings once again. Remember, we are talking abut my good friend and I.
- I wrote this piece a couple weeks back and struggled with its post-worthiness. I am not sure why, this truthful whimsical tale of a night in the life of has ATM written all over it. [↩]